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What We’re Reading

July 17, 2021 • Posted in Blog

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C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D. Distinguished Fellow

Medically assisted deaths rose by 17% in 2020, continuing upward trend: Health Canada

By Joan Bryden The Canadian Press Posted June 8, 2021 1:01 am

I have several concerns about this situation:

For Health Canada, the government health service, to provide access to P-AS is a financial conflict of interest. Medicalized suicide should not be in the hands of those who hold the purse strings. Pain is manageable but other forms of suffering are not best treated with analgesics. True palliative care must address all forms of suffering. Medicine should not be coopted by the P-AS ...read more

The Prescription for Flourishing Embodiment in Public Bioethics

December 4, 2020 • Posted in Blog

 

A Book Review

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D. Distinguished Fellow

American public bioethics does not have a sterling history because it misunderstands its most important subject, the human subject. This is the claim of a brilliant new book by O. Carter Snead, the Director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture and professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.

In What it Means to be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics (Harvard, 2020), Snead offers a genealogy of American public bioethics. Public bioethics, as contrasted with clinical bioethics, is the realm of human subjects research where, instead ...read more

The Problem of Ill-Gotten Gain in Health Care

October 22, 2020 • Posted in Blog

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D. Distinguished Fellow

The politicized debate about President Trump’s treatment for Covid-19 may have shrouded an important set of questions about the science of developing treatments, viz., the problem of ill-gotten gain.

Among other treatment protocols, the President received Regeneron’s REGN-COV2, a “cocktail” of two neutralizing antibodies that has shown promise in some animal studies (see here and here). The media jumped on an association between REGN-COV2 antibodies and fetal cells, some even claiming that the antibodies were developed from fetal cells.

 

Screenshot of NYT headline on Oct. 8, 2020

 

 

 

 

The fact of the matter is REGN-COV2 was tested for its virus-neutralizing ...read more

23andMe and Drug Development

January 31, 2020 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

More than a decade ago—in a different time and a different place—a neighbor offered me a box of stuff he had bought as part of a lot at some estate sale. He needed to get rid of no small amount of “stuff,” so he gave me that box of tarnished silverware and odds and ends. I took it home and spent a couple of days cleaning it. We were already planning a yard sale, and so I placed the now-cleaned items I did not need from the neighbor’s box in the sale. Imagine his surprise ...read more

A Moratorium on Heritable Human Genome Editing: Illusory or Real?

May 31, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

In March, 2019, Nature published a commentary penned by Eric Lander, Françoise Baylis, Feng Zhang, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and Paul Berg, and signed by 13 other notables. The name of the commentary is “Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing.” This document requires analysis.

First, some definitions are needed. A moratorium is defined as a “suspension of activity,” or “an authorized period of delay or waiting.” Heritable means “capable of being passed from one generation to the next.” Additionally, clinical can refer to a “scientifically detached” attitude or “the observation and treatment of patients directly.” Each of ...read more

Transgenic Monkeys: Coming to a Lab Near You?

April 30, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

The initial draft sequence of the chimpanzee genome was published in September 2005 – in comparison with the human genome. A few months later, geneticist James M. Sikela wrote in PLOS Genetics, “the genes and genetic changes that are responsible for making the human brain what it is and for allowing it to do what it uniquely does, have long been among the most prized jewels of our genome.” In that paper, Sikela considered how one could locate the changes in the genome that account for “human-specific cognitive abilities.” How could one prove that a ...read more

Shift and Puzzle: What do an ape and a donkey have to do with bioethics?

January 31, 2019 • Posted in Blog

Unmasking the Cultural Lies, One at a Time

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

In C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, Shift is a shrewd, crafty ape, and his neighbor, Puzzle, is a meek, somewhat simple donkey. It has been a long time since Aslan, the all-powerful lion, has been seen in Narnia. Therefore, when Shift spies an old lion skin, he decides to have Puzzle dress up in it and pretend to be Aslan. Shift constantly insists that Puzzle do all the heavy-lifting involved in any of their escapades, but in such a way that Puzzle thinks he is getting the ...read more

What Say You?

December 18, 2018 • Posted in Blog

Update: See the bottom of this post for the National Institutes of Health’s response to our letter. 

An Open Letter to Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. Director National Institutes of Health 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland 20892 [email protected]

17 December 2018

Dear Dr. Collins:

The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture lauds the position of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as evidenced by your concluding statement of 28 November 2018: “NIH does not support the use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos.” As embryonic humans represent the most vulnerable amongst our species, the ...read more

Crossing a Bright Red Line: Human Embryo Editing

November 30, 2018 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

On Monday of this week, He Jiankui of Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, shocked the scientific world prior to the beginning of a conference on gene editing. Dr. He announced a first: that he had edited the genes of embryos for seven couples undergoing fertility treatments, and that one pregnancy has resulted to date. It should be noted that there is no corroboration of this claim currently: it is an announcement; no scientific paper has been published about it.

Some of the specific claims, published in The Guardian, are as follows:

All of ...read more

Public Comment before the FDA Cellular, Tissue, and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee, 25 February 2014

February 25, 2014 • Posted in Blog

Good afternoon, Members of the Advisory Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am Dr. D. Joy Riley, the executive director of The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture, an educational not-for-profit organization headquartered in Nashville, TN, dedicated to promoting human dignity in the face of challenges to what it means to be human, and to informing and equipping people to face the vital bioethics issues of the 21st Century.

I am a physician by training, and hold a graduate degree in bioethics as well. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today.  I have no conflicts of interest to report.

It is remarkable ...read more